Only about a third of maids here get their weekly day off and both they and employers are responsible for the poor record.
Since January last year, bosses are required to give maids a weekly day off or payment in lieu. But most bosses are reluctant to give the day off, especially if they have had constant help at home, said employment agents.
They are supported, in some cases, by maids who prefer to be compensated for work rather than resting because they want to earn more money.
"Most employers get a maid not as a luxury but because they need the service for their family, for example, to take care of aged family members," said Ms Carene Chin, managing director of maid agency Homekeeper.
Mr Jack Khoo, owner of WorldAsia Employment Agency, said seven in 10 employers ask him whether they can withhold giving the day off. "But when we tell them it's a rule, they'll comply," he said.
Some employers use the $5,000 security bond as an excuse, saying that if the maid goes out and misbehaves, they will lose the money, said Best Home Employment Agency owner Tay Khoon Beng.
"But it's not a good reason, because certain aspects of the rules have been relaxed," he added.
The Manpower Ministry said in Parliament on Monday that of 2,000 maids surveyed who had come to Singapore to work for the first time last year, 37 per cent were receiving a weekly day off, and 61 per cent received at least one day off per month.